Monday, October 02, 2006

In loco parentis loco

This is not a good beginning for our new school board, or its new chairman.

School board member (and chairman of the Board for the Council of Great City Schools) George Thompson, an attorney, took a case that involved a woman whose son brought a gun and drugs to school.

Incredibly, the new school board chairman has to ask--

“My question to Metro legal was ‘Is there a conflict of interest in this matter?’” said Marsha Warden, chairwoman of the Metro School Board. City Paper
Of course there is and I'm astonished that both George Thompson and Marsha Warden even needed to ask. The minute this woman said 'school' as in "my son brought my gun and drugs to school" Thompson should have said: "I'm sorry ma'am but I'm on the school board. I can't take this case." Further, he's just resigning now when the incident happened back on May 11? When was he hired by this woman?

The other half of this story-- perhaps the rest of this iceberg-- is why it took so long for the school system to let the parents know what's going on in the schools.

Instead, many of the nearly 50 parents who attended the special meeting wanted to know why they first found out about the May 11 incident more than four months after it happened, and were not notified by the Metro school system.
“This is about trust, and right now that trust has been broken,” said Scott Dickson, the parent of a now-first grade student at Shayne Elementary, City Paper
Parents who don't trust don't support the system, leave the system and, perhaps, leave the county. And they talk to their neighbors and relatives--who then don't trust. Catch a clue, MNPS. I've talked about this over and over, people assume that many of our schools aren't safe and it doesn't help when they cover these things up for 5 months.

In a conversation at a meeting held by CM Pam Murray regarding Maplewood High School I, as a school board member, said we've got to let folks know just what the truth is so that we can either kill the rumors and assumptions about the safety of schools or work on correcting the problem. At the time Ralph Thompson, head of discipline for Metro Nashville Public Schools, said they were still working on the information but he'd get it to me. Well, it took quite a while and we still didn't get a school by school breakdown (more at my previous post.) They are still hiding information about the safety of our schools--of our children.

At the very least the parents with children in that classroom should have immediately been told that their child's classmate had brought a gun and drugs to school so that parents could do what good parents do--help their children understand the situation, fight fear and train them about proper gun and drug handling (for them don't touch, call and adult). But no, 'in loco parentis" kicks into high gear and the system decides that they should handle it and it's none of our business. Never mind that they're our children, it's our school system and it's our tax money paying for it all.


Anonymous said...

Well, to be fair, of course she needs to ask Metro Legal. The quotation doesn't preclude the fact that she may have had a very strong hunch that it was a conflict; the Board Chair should absolutely ask her lawyers their legal opinion. Even if she knows, it's the correct procedure.

Thompson, on the other hand, has the burden as a practicing attorney- it's his responsibility to keep his profession from conflicting with his board work. I think he's a good board member, but here he should have known better.

Anonymous said...

Kay -- the discipline/safety data was in one of the school board packets we received in September. I think it was in the first packet. It may not have all the info you want but data does get published every fall.

Kay Brooks said...

If it's the same information I posted at my previous blog post it's not all the information I believe citizens and parents in Nashville ought to have. There is no school by school breakdown--just by cluster.